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Easy There, Coach Milner

At Maddie’s school, disobedience can
earn you a lap around the playground at recess. The teacher has a
notebook, and keeps a tally of the number of laps each child
“earns” during the morning, and if you drive by the
playground at recess (not that I ever do, especially not with a
camera) you will see several children walking around the perimeter.

Maddie finds this idea quite interesting, for some strange reason,
and has taken to it with gusto. In fact, she is so enamoured of the
punishment that she and her friends will pretend that they’ve
earned laps, just so they can walk around and talk the whole time.
Maddie’s friend Elise was distressed to see Maddie marching
the line the other day, and didn’t know until later that
Maddie’s punishment was self-inflicted.

Madeleine thinks this is such dandy idea
that she has asked that it be installed as part of our family
disciplinary action. “Mommy, I’m going to write out
everyone’s name on a piece of paper, with a line next to it.
And every time someone does something wrong, I’m going to put
a line, and you’ll have to do a lap.”

“In fact,” Maddie continued, “I think that we
should have to do laps instead of take breaks. Cora,” Maddie
turned to her sister, “You’ll be doing laps if I catch
you using my crayons again.”

At this point, of course, I had to step in and set things straight.
As amusing as it was to picture Maddie in her little gym shorts and
braids with a clipboard and a bullhorn, I needed to take control of
the family dynamic again. So I gently explained that the system we
have in place is a pretty good one, and we won’t be replacing
it with laps any time soon. And in addition, it’s not
Maddie’s place to decide who is out of line or slacking off
in some area.

I can see it now: “Mommy, that dinner was sub-standard! Take
a lap around the kitchen and don’t dawdle.”

Lord save us.


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